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Philly Marathon -not my best time but my best race!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Philly Marathon
Nov 22, 2009
26.2 miles
5 hours 42 min
5100 calories burned

The philly marathon was an awesome experience! So much different than my first marathon...but hey this is number 2 this year...that makes me like a seasoned pro right? haha! Who would have thought that when I ran my first half marathon in January that this year would be all about running? I didn't even know that! If you would have told me that I would run 2 half marathons this year and 2 full marathons plus a bunch of smaller races I would have thought you were crazy. By the time December 31st comes around I will have RACED close to 135 miles! And at an average of 20 miles a week (which is probably closer to 30) that means that my training runs were an additional 1300 miles this year...WHOA mind boggling that just over 2 years ago I never could have imagine I could accomplish this!

So back to my Philly experience....I signed up for the marathon to do some things different than San Diego. I thought I over-trained for the last one...I thought I made mistakes during the race...I just wanted a chance to do it it right this time...

I flew in Friday before the race and went to the expo w/my sister and my nephews...we hit up all the booths and right away I could tell that the Philly marathon was on a little smaller scale than then Rock and Roll series I had done before but that was ok. It was exciting to see the liberty bell on the walk back to the car and know I would be running through this historic town in just 2 days! One of my best friends from college (who I haven't seen in 5 years!) was able to be there for the weekend and the race with me so I was additionally excited! To add to that excitement THIS would be the FIRST time my parents and my sister and family would see me race! *GULP* that added to the nerves a bit.

Saturday we spent relaxing and getting plans together for the race the next day. We planned what stops I would be looking for them at and the logistics of meeting up and getting me to the start line. While we stayed with my sister that weekend my dad was awesome and set up hotel rooms for my parents and my friend and I in downtown philly the night before the race only 1.5 miles from the start line! That proved to be an awesome decision as the beds were great and I got some excellent sleep that night. I was a little spastic with planning my outfit. I had brought several different clothes...and good thing I did - I was expecting freezing temps like Philly had the year before and so had lined running tights, long sleeve shirt, layers and layers, BUT it was only going to be a high of 45 the next day so I was glad to have brought some lighter clothes too...just in case! I opted for my running capris and race belt skirt. Arm sleeves and a short sleeve skirt...then a light running jacket and a fleece. I laid it all out on the floor of the hotel room...I'm sure the routine looked a bit funny to my friend but I couldn't go to sleep til I had checked and double checked everything I was going to put on and set it all out on the floor as it would go on me the next morning. Having all that prepared I was able to get some really good sleep that night!


4am and I was up! Race started at 7am but nerves forced me awake. I actually wasn't as nervous and apprehensive about Philly as I was about San Diego...but then again by this point I've done this before...until I woke up on race day...then the head-freakout started! I got coffee, I got dressed, made sure everyone was awake...checked my things 100x packed up and was ready to go! My parents dropped my friend and I off at the start line about 1.5 hours before the race. It was dark it was cold but we walked...around and around the start line area. I was bundled up in extra layers I would loose at the start of the race but this weather is a lot colder than phx weather so I wanted to stay as warm as possible as long as possible! As I'm standing there I'm so glad for the company of my friend...kept me from thinking too much! I was thinking through the race...thinking I was insane to think I could run another marathon...thinking OMG my family going to see me run what if I don't finish...the thoughts are overwhelming and I just try to push them down....

It's time...I'm in my corral lined up ready to start...the line moves that slow march forward as we all inch closer and closer to that start line. This race the marathon AND the half marathoners run the first half of the course together so the start line is packed and it easily takes more than 20 minutes to get to the friend is staying to the right walking along with me as I move forward!

Then holy smokes it's time...I'm crossing the start line...and the most ridiculous thought came across my mind "I can't do this". WHAT where did that come from?...of course I could do it- I've done it before right AND my family is here so I HAVE to finish. SO I push that down to the back of my head and start the run...the crowds at the start are huge and I catch glimpses of my friend as I'm running along. Then she's gone, off to meet my first parents at mile 1.5ish...It's just me now. This is the first long race I've started alone...all my others ones I've started w/someone and even if we didn't stay together it cut the nerves the first few miles...this was all me. We start out just as the sun is peaking over the buildings in downtown Philly. It's amazing. The sky is clear...the trees are changing colors (not a sight I get to see in Phoenix much)...its cold out but as I run I'm warming up. I focus on not starting out too fast ( a problem in san diego). I'm doing good...the first mile goes by fast and I start looking for my family...I am all the way on the left but there above the crowd I see my nephew on my dad's head...I start over to the right and yell out "MOM DAD" but they don't hear so I shout my sister's name and she see's me and then they all see me! I wave and run by as they are yelling to me...then it's just me but I'm a little winded from a bit of overwhelming emotions. It's been a rough patch in my life but here I am running another marathon with my parents and my friend with me...but had to suck it up...this is no time for emotions to get to me I have 24.2 miles left to run and I need to focus.

We run down the streets around the buildings...every corner has cheering fans. The next few miles go pretty easy. The roads are not smooth so I have to concentrate on my footing but soon enough it is mile #6 and I'm looking for my fan team again...I spot them early this time and am able to give them my jacket and gloves. I'm warming up and with the sun up I'm comfortable in just the arm sleeves and short sleeve shirt. The emotions at seeing them were not overwhelming this was just a good feeling. I'm find myself settling into my race. Around the streets...up through the park...through Drexel campus...those drunk college kids outside the fraternities where the BEST cheering squad of the day! I am pretty sure they stayed up all night but they had music blaring and were lined up hi-fiving us and and yelling our names. It was actually pretty cool to see them all ramped up like that! I wasn't sure of the course but from some info we looked up the night before I knew there would be a hill at mile 7 so I was pacing myself for that...I didn't know there would also be a hill at mile 6.5 and at mile Oh well I was on track. I was running my race. I felt good...but body felt music was keeping me in step...I took the hills at mile 6.5 and 7 comfortably. There were slow long climbs but I kept pace. Mile 9 was a little different. It was a lot steeper and took a lot of focus to get up it...but as I was climbing that hill it opened into a park and it was a pathway lined with huge trees and the leaves were falling down on us as we was the perfect scenery to have around me. I focused on that and decided at mile 10 water point I would take a 30 second walk break. This was a different strategy than last time where I didn't want to walk at all...I got my water too my walk break started back up...still feeling friend text me that they were just ahead of the overpass at mile 13...(thank goodness for cell phones in marathons!) miles 11,12 went by quickly but at mile 13 I start to feel at tweak in the groin muscle on my left leg. It's not hurting but I feel it. I want to walk but am not about to pass my family walking and let them know anything is wrong. I had pulled this groin muscle 3 weeks earlier in a race but had iced it and rested it and hadn't had any issues with my runs...til now. Mile 13 the crowds are HUGE. The people running the half are sprinting in to the finish line while the rest of us are making the turn to head out towards mile 14 along the water. I'm looking for my parents...I see my dad and hand off my arm sleeves...this was last chance I would see them til the finish. I find the rest of the group and grab the oranges from my sister she had cut up for me and head towards mile 14 which splits away from the half marathon finish.

Passing from mile 13 to 14 the streets are lined...the people are out in force shouting for the half marathoners...but as soon as I pass the breakout for mile 14 it's an immediate change. The road is quiet. There are huge gaps between the runners. It's now just us running along under the trees. I feel the ache in my groin but push through the hill at mile 14.5. We are headed along the highway and then out to this straighaway where I will stay on pretty much til the finish. It's along the water and covered in trees with a park along the side of the road. Miles 14-20 will be headed out and then the last 6.2 will be the same way back.

As we start out on the road both sides are crowded...there are some fans but most of the support is from the other runners who have already made the turn and are on their way back. Mile 15 I take another short walk break and check the time. I'm doing well about 15-20 minutes ahead of my last marathon if I can hold it steady. The urge to go to the bathroom is bad...I thought I could make it through (like I did in san diego) but its causing a cramp in my side so at mile 16 there aren't any lines for the port-a-johns so I make a quick stop. Figured that would cost me 2 minutes but would be worth it. i start back out to find an ambulance coming up behind me and as I move over to let it by I see a girl passed out on the road, one shoe off, and another runner giving her CPR and yelling for the ambulance. There is a small crowd around her and I hope she ended up is heart wrenching to see that and it puts horrible doubts in your mind. I keep jogging along...but my groin muscle which was only tender before is now sore. I'm taking more walk breaks to give it a break but I'm loosing time by doing this.

All of a sudden I hear "you! get in with us! you're with us now" and the 5:30 pace group surrounds me. They are 2 min ahead of time which would put me in at 8 min faster than my last race so I join in. They are doing at walk run split run 5 walk 1...I stick with them all the way to mile 20. It's hard and I'm pushing. This is a long slow uphill climb to mile 20 and I'm starting to struggle. My legs are tired but not as bad as san diego. I'm pushing pace and staying ahead of the pace group but walking breaks are slowing me down and soon I'm trailing them again. We trade off this way from mile 16.5 through 21...we make it up the hill. The leader of the pace group was amazing...I am not sure what would have happened if he hadn't been around but his constant energy and support got me through the next 5 miles...I didn't think I just listened to when he said stop and start and went with a lot of ways that mental break was just what I would need to get me through the finish. I was tired when we hit the turnaround for at mile 20...but that groin muscle was now on fire...every step hurt. I kept up with the pace group until mile 22 and then I lagged behind. I couldn't keep pace with them and walking hurt more than staying at a slow run. So I let them pass me...mile 23...the leg was done. I was in so much pain but I had to finish I mean really I had just a 5K in front of me...I run those for fun...but I knew that it was going to take me a lot longer than 30 minutes to get through those last miles. I was alternating walking and running but stayed mostly with a slow run. I knew then I would not beat my time from the last race. I thought I would be devastated but I wasn't....I realized I ran the race I wanted...I paced myself well, I was prepared...and if not for the injury I would have come in 10-15 minutes under my last's like football and that whole "any given sunday" phrase...anything can happen in a marathon. I text my fam and told them I would be slower than I thought and continued on my way. It was mentally challenging to push myself and to make my legs run. I could have walked it in but that's not how I finish races...I came to run and I was going to run...3 steps, 7 steps, it didn't matter I ran, walked, ran and enjoyed the slow crawl and the beautiful view of the river and the tree lined streets.

Miles 23,24,25 are just a mental leg is done but I'm finishing this race whether my body agrees or I push and push and push. I yell at myself and have accepted the fact i will not get my best time here but that's ok...I did the work for this marathon. I ran the race I wanted...I did not hit a wall the whole race...there were no tears...I ran this race better than I did San Diego even though I would not have the time to say so. I got to mile 25 and said ok RUN the last mile all the way in but I got to the halfway point and had to walk a bit then I saw the crowds and I started my jog in...just .7 of a mile to go now...running a little faster...the groin is protesting but I'm ignoring it...I feel the muscle burning and then I pass the 26 mile point and I am surrounded on both sides by spectators calling my name as I run in and I don't feel the's gone...I sprint it in...after all I came to run this race...not walk it...I see the finish I see my family and my friend and I cross the finish line with a smile on my face at a full sprint! I don't even bother to look at my's not important. I just finished my 2nd marathon this year!

The first thing I do after I get through the finish is get to the medic tent...that pain that disappeared for the run in was back in full force the second I stopped running. They tried to saran wrap the ice to the outside of my leg but it's kind of hard to get it to stay there so to the amused/maybe slightly embarrassed look of my family and friend i just open up my pants and drop the ice bags right in....brrrr but it did the trick! We walked around the finish line got some pictures and then found the free massage area. I got a quick rub down on my legs and then grabbed a sub from my FAVORITE sub shop of all time...which might be almost as much of a reward as my bling...except my bling I get to start at over and over and over again!

This wasn't my best marathon but then I know it's not my last either. A good friend of mine is planning on doing the Portland marathon in 2010 and I'm thinking that might just be my next marathon. I am going to keep it to half marathons and short races for awhile to let my groin muscle heal correctly. With the rest of my life in chaos it's my running that has been my outlet and my sanity check these days so need to give my body the chance to heal so I can run.

I've got some work ahead of me...stress has helped some pounds creep back on...I'm still job hunting...and struggling to maintain control of emotions and keep balance in my life...but I know that if I can run marathons...and now it IS plural....that its really just all a mind game. It's like my training in that I have to set my mind to it, give it all I've got, and it will happen. I need to remember that my life is like this may not happen as fast as I want it too...but when I get to the end and I'm happy with how I got there...then that's really all that matters!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Woo Hoo!! Congratulations!! Well Done!!

    I was smiling and laughing and crying and empathizing with you as I read your blog. I know it all... the nerves, the excitement, the anticipation, the determination, the pain, the courage and resolve to finish... these are the shared emotions of marathoners, and we have that kinship.

    I'm really happy for you that you were able to do this with your family there to support you, and that you realized the bit about only being able to run the race you have in you on any given day... you should never minimize your accomplishment, and I'm glad you didn't! I admire you so much for running so much of this, particularly for sprinting at the end. I just struggle so much with that. I want to run across the finish line but find myself delaying the start of my running that last bit until the last possible minute... as if I'm afraid that I won't be able to make it if I start running too soon...

    I loved your blog with all the pics and can't wait to see you in PHX. Maybe we can even start out together! I know you're planning on the half, but I would love to run with you, even if its only for a minute or two :D

    Congratulations again D!!!
    3023 days ago
    Amazing! I'm working on running a mile. You are an inspiration! emoticon
    3025 days ago
    WOW! You rock! Congrats on your marathon! emoticon
    3026 days ago
  • BETTY925
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3027 days ago
    OK, so now I'm gonna have to put this one on my DREAM race list. I am sooo PROUD of you Danielle! Know that you have done what 1/10th of 1% of the world's population ever dares to do, much less train for and that is to run a marathon...and you are even more unique as this is not your first. THAT SPEAKS VOLUMES, my friend!!!

    WOO HOO!!!
    3028 days ago
  • JEM0622
    Way to go on your race! Thanks for sharing it with us! ~Julie
    3028 days ago
  • TUNI212
    Another great race report! You did an amazing job - congratulations!
    3030 days ago
  • MARLIE13
    Oh wow...I have tears in my eyes. You are one amazing woman!! I'm so proud of you and am looking forward to joining the 26.2 ranks with you. Even if you can't make it to the Portland Marathon, I know you'll be running it in spirit with you'll be my training coach too. lol! " do you do this? Danielle...what do I do now??"

    3030 days ago
    Congratulations. Huge accomplishment.
    Thanks for the detailed blog. I love it.
    Funny glasses.
    3030 days ago
    Danielle, enjoyed reading your Philly blog. We are PROUD of you.
    Glad you had family, friends to support you and motivate you. emoticon
    3030 days ago
  • JORDAN1019
    I was looking forward to your marathon blog.. Congratulations on another great accomplishment..
    3030 days ago
    I love that your family and friend who knew the pre-running-days-Danielle got to witness it first hand. They have to believe it, now!
    You are a rock star.
    3030 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your experience! I felt like I was right there running with you! You should be very proud of yourself--You are truly a runner!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3030 days ago
    Congratulations! Be proud of your accomplishment!
    3030 days ago
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